Did You Make This Common Mistake When Scanning Your Family Photos?

June 6, 2016  - by 
Did You Make This Common Mistake When Scanning Your Family Photos?

We’ve posted a lot recently about the value of family photos. We’ve given tips on how to save, preserve, organize, and share photos, but one thing may be missing. Co-founders at Roots Family History,™ Thomas Watson and Craig Collett, came together on savefamilyphotos.com to make sure you haven’t overlooked this very important step.

Whether you’re scanning your film, printed photos, and documents at home or using a professional scanning company, you will undoubtedly be faced with this perplexing issue—scanning doesn’t actually archive information about your photo. 

That’s right, digitizing your vintage family photos isn’t enough. It’s no different than discovering an old photo album only to realize that no living person could possibly identify the people depicted, let alone know their stories. Have you scanned dozens (or even hundreds) of family pictures, but never actually attached any information to them? Don’t worry, many families make this common mistake when scanning family photos. That’s why we’re writing this article—to make sure you know what scanning misses and how to fix it!

Read the rest at savefamilyphotos.com.


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  1. Help! In the article savefmailyphotos.com, they show _ “How to Add Metadata to Family Photos:
    These vital pieces of information can be added to any photo by right clicking on its thumbnail. You can also add metadata to hundreds of photos at a time by highlighting a group of photos and right clicking on the selected area. This works great for adding metadata like names and places!”
    My problem: I do not have this option on any of my thumbnails. How did they come up with this option.

    1. You might try to contact them directly from their blog. Or find a tech savvy friend to help you out.

    2. Presuming you are using a Windows based system then you do have the option. Right click on the photo and choose Properties.

      The Properties window should open and you will see four tabs: General, Security, Details, and Previous Versions. Click Details.

      In the Description section you can edit the Title, Subject, Tags and Comments fields. This is where you can add names, locations, stories, etc.

      There are also editable fields in the Origin section.

  2. Garth has the right idea. Another clever way to add information to your digital photographs is to enter the Photo Gallery in Windows by double clicking any photo and selecting Edit. Once loaded, you’ll notice options to add captions, descriptive tags, and geo tags. The data entered is sent to the appropriate metadata field and follows your photo wherever it goes. If you are looking for fancy meta tagging options try Adobe’s Lightroom. In any case, you can always check your work by viewing the properties of your photos with a right click.

    1. DeeAnn, Mac users have it pretty good if they get used to using the new ‘Photos’ application that comes standard with their new OS. Open any photo in ‘Photos’ and you’ll notice a small letter ‘i’ in the menu bar. If you click that ‘i’ you will be presented with a simple menu that allows the addition of meta data such as location, description, and of course – people.

  3. My sister wants to digitize all our family photos. Thanks for the advice about making sure to attach information to each picture so that you know who everyone is. Hopefully, we can find a scanning service to help us get all our photos scanned and together with all the information about the people and places.

  4. My grandfather did some photo scanning and I was looking for the meta data like we see in today’s pictures from phones but I did not find relevant data about the location and dates of those photos. It only shows scanning dates and these are dated as 2015 where as original photos are black and white and look like from 1970’s.

    1. Sara, that’s exactly what happens with scanned photos 🙂 The metadata has to be added manually, preferably by a family member who can proper names, dates, and subjects to the photos. This can be done for free on any Windows or Mac computer. Good luck!

  5. We also have many family pictures that have not been scanned or thought about, but when I read this blog it seemed like a great way to scan old pictures with all the information. But I don’t have a scanner like this so how can I do it now?

  6. aah, literally that’s the most common mistake ever made by anyone. I don’t think so that there’s any person who didn’t do this mistake. This mistake becomes a myth at that time.